Carl Lentz is the lead pastor of the Hillsong NYC megachurch. Last year, he spoke with CNN about homosexuality and how he feels about the issue, or non-issue if you ask him. Through his comments, he has shown that he is incredibly uninformed on the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and whether he admits it or not, he’s condoning sin.
Lentz has a habit of avoiding scriptures that may offend people. Instead he focuses on a PR-friendly message that attempts to make everyone happy. In a way, he’s more of a cheerleader than a real pastor.
While his avoidance of scriptures thay may be challanging to some might make his attendance large, he’s missing the point completely. It’s not about how many people you have in your church, it’s about what you teach them. Jesus wasn’t concerned with forming a friendly message so multitudes would listen to him. He told people the truth, and people were attracted to that.
According to Lentz, the Bible is missing passages that condemn homosexuality. He said that Jesus never spoke on the subject, so he doesn’t need to, either.
“Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today, was widely prevalent. And I’m still waiting for someone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people. You won’t find it because he never did,”
Let’s–for a moment–look at what Lentz said in the above quote. He says that Jesus was confronted with widespread homosexuality during his time on earth. It turns out, what the megachurch pastor said is patently false.
The notion that homosexualality was “widely prevalent” in the culture that Jesus lived is simply a lie.
Of course in some parts of the world, like Rome and Greece, homosexuality was practiced during the time of Jesus. But it wasn’t a very popular lifestyle choice in many other areas. In the Jewish culture that Jesus lived in, homosexuality was an abomination and anyone found to be homosexual would typically be stoned to death.
Jesus obviously was not for killing sinners; quite the opposite. He offers forgiveness for sinners if they repent. Like the adulterer who was about to be stoned, he kept her from being punished and told her to stop her sinning. Never did Jesus just simply overlook the sin, he would always address it for what it was.
Whether you like it or not, homosexuality was and remains a sin in the eyes of the God of the Bible. In Jesus’ time and culture, homosexuality simply wasn’t a relevant issue. Any Jew who heard the scriptures of the old testament, which was virtually all of them, would have already known that same-sex relationships were a sin.
Something Lentz is perhaps incapable of understanding is that the word homosexuality is a fairly new one. When the King James Bible was translated, the word didn’t exist yet. Instead, the word fornication was used. Throughout the Bible, different words and phrases are clearly referring to what we now call homosexuality.
“Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived:neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men,” 1 Corinthians 6:9
Paul is very clear in the verse above that homosexuality is a sin against God. As I’ll talk about later, Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would reveal things to them that he didn’t have the time tell them.
“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 18:22
Suggesting that because Jesus didn’t mention the specific sin, it somehow becomes okay is absurd. Jesus told his disciples that he still had many things to teach them and that some things would be told to them later (presumably after his ascension) by the Holy Spirit. Only listening to the red letters contained in the Bible is an extremely close-minded approach to running a church. While what Jesus said is extraordinary and very important, to shun the rest would be idiotic as Jesus said his disciples would receive further instruction from the Holy Spirit.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth” John 16:12-13
Christ actually did condemn homosexuality when he defined marriage in Matthew 19:4-6. By stating marriage is between a man and a woman, that leaves alternative relationships outside of God’s plan for humans.
Welcoming sin into the church
Sinners should be welcomed into churches. But never, ever, should a pastor say it’s okay for a sinner to continue sinning. That message is an anti-christ one. The goal for a sinner who walks into church should be to stop their sinning, not continue in church-sanctioned sin.
“We have a lot of gay men and women in our church and I pray we always do.”
Lentz’s goal as a pastor shouldn’t be to have as many sinners as possible. His goal should be to turn sinners into followers of Christ.
Mr. Lentz isn’t interested in calling homosexuality a sin because he’s too consumed with greed. Calling gay people sinners isn’t exactly a popular thing to do in America right now. His multi-million dollar church may suffer if he actually spoke what the Bible taught.
Pastor Carl is not alone in his disregard for scripture, the senior pastor of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston, has made it clear that societal changes can change how his church functions. Staying relevant is more important to Houston than teaching the word of God. It seems the money his church generates speaks more loudly than the God he professes to worship.
“The world’s changing, and we want to stay relevant as a church, so that’s a vexing thing.”
After the quote above was published last year on many publications, Houston attempted to quell any concerns over what he had said. In his clarification, the megachurch pastor said that he sees the writings of Paul as clear on the subject.
“I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.”
As far as I’m aware, Lentz has offered no such clarification on what he said. However, a gay couple who are engaged, lead the worship choir during church services at Hillsong NYC. It’s that kind of acceptance of gay lifestyles that make it seem as though Lentz is in fact ignoring the Bible.
“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” 1 John 2:3-4
Homosexuals should be loved by Christians. They should be accepted into churches. But their lifestyle is not in accordance with God’s plan and laws and should not be condoned. It’s Lentz’s avoidance of parts of the Bible that may offend that has lead me to believe he isn’t fit to pastor anyone.
[Photo via Hillsong NYC]